An airplane light-sport aircraft (LSA) is a new category of fixed-wing aircraft the FAA has allowed that is simple, light-weight and less expensive to own and operate. This can be any single-engine piston powered aircraft under 1,320 pounds maximum gross weight that meets the definition of a fixed-wing (traditional airplane) light-sport aircraft. The pilot may carry one passenger. The maximum speed is 138 mph (120 knots) full power level flight, have fixed landing gear and a fixed propeller.
The exact definition by the FAA is:
Light-sport aircraft means an aircraft, other than a helicopter or powered-lift that, since its original certification, has continued to meet the following:
(1) A maximum takeoff weight of not more than—
(i) 1,320 pounds (600 kilograms) for aircraft not intended for operation on water; or
(ii) 1,430 pounds (650 kilograms) for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
(2) A maximum airspeed in level flight with maximum continuous power (VH) of not more than 120 knots CAS under standard atmospheric conditions at sea level.
(3) A maximum never-exceed speed (VNE) of not more than 120 knots CAS for a glider.
(4) A maximum stalling speed or minimum steady flight speed without the use of lift-enhancing devices (VS1) of not more than 45 knots CAS at the aircraft’s maximum certificated takeoff weight and most critical center of gravity.
(5) A maximum seating capacity of no more than two persons, including the pilot.
(6) A single, reciprocating engine, if powered.
(7) A fixed or ground-adjustable propeller if a powered aircraft other than a powered glider.
(8) A fixed or autofeathering propeller system if a powered glider.
(9) A fixed-pitch, semi-rigid, teetering, two-blade rotor system, if a gyroplane.
(10) A nonpressurized cabin, if equipped with a cabin.
(11) Fixed landing gear, except for an aircraft intended for operation on water or a glider.
(12) Fixed or retractable landing gear, or a hull, for an aircraft intended for operation on water.
(13) Fixed or retractable landing gear for a glider.
There are three types of airplane light-sport aircraft (LSA) to choose from. To choose the one that is right for you, you will consider the difference in cost. who can maintain it, whether or not you want to use it for training, and if it can be rented.
The three types to choose from are:
- Special Light-Sport Aircraft (S-LSA)
FAA approved and industry certified
- Standard Category Aircraft That Meet LSA Category Criteria
FAA certified (Classic and vintage such as a Piper Cub)
- Experimental Light-Sport Aircraft (E-LSA)
Experimental LSA and amature built